The Shannara Chronicles is attempting to bring a bit of Game of Thrones magic to MTV.
The fantasy show is based on the 1982 series, The Elfstones of Shannara by writer Terry Brooks, which started out as something of a Lord of the Rings knock-off but evolved into a beloved series that has topped 25 volumes. The MTV series that started this week picks up with the second book in the series, telling the story of an evil that threatens a magical land.
Critics have called Shannara Chronicles an attempt by MTV to draw younger viewers from the Game of Thrones fanbase, although The Verge noted that it is actually a bit different from HBO’s wildly popular tale of medieval intrigue.
“Pre-release publicity around Shannara Chronicles has regularly described it as MTV’s attempt to seduce Game Of Thrones‘ viewership. Given Shannara‘s political intrigue and dense, sprawling cast, that connection seems logical enough. But Shannara‘s intrigue is exceedingly thin, and mostly consists of Amberle’s grandfather, King Eventine (John Rhys-Davies), refusing to step down in favor of his petulant magic-denying son Arion. Shannara doesn’t have Game Of Thrones‘ wearying brutality, but it also lacks characters with complicated morality and conflicting agendas. In Brooks’ world, there are no shades of grey, just clear-cut good and evil. In a more nuanced story, Arion’s concerns over his father’s deceptions and his questionable allies might provoke some sympathy. Here, they’re a dull, petty little evil on the edge of much more towering concerns.”
The show is set on earth, long after a nuclear war as wiped out civilization. Humans evolved into several races, including trolls, dwarves, gnomes, and normal humans. There are also elves, but the story claims they have been on earth all along, and after the nuclear war emerged as the group in power.
— MTV (@MTV) January 6, 2016
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) January 6, 2016
The world of The Shannara Chronicles is split into four realms; the Northland where trolls reign; the Southland ruled by humans; the Eastland where dwarves and gnomes fight for power, and Westland, the center of elves.
There is magic in the world as well — even though many of those living there deny it — that is brought back to the land by a druid and his demon followers, Forbes noted.
Forbes writer Eric Kain said it makes for a “very campy, almost generic fantasy” that has a huge fan base dating back more than 30 years.
Not everyone is big on the comparison to Game Of Thrones, namely author Terry Brooks. In an interview leading up to the show’s release this week, Brooks noted that Game of Thrones is filled with very adult themes that are portrayed in scenes of sex, rape, and killing.
The Shannara Chronicles is much more family-centered, Brooks noted.
“Don’t mention Game of Thrones to me. We were saying, ‘We don’t want to go that route.’ That’s not what the Shannara books are. They’re a family-oriented fantasy and always have been,” Brooks told Entertainment Weekly. “That’s been one of the strong selling points. Anyone from 10 years of age up that has the reading skills can read these books. We’ve always talked about it as a family drama that anyone can watch.”
Brooks said he was thrilled to have MTV support the project and put a full marketing push. Now the next part is the key — if viewers will embrace The Shannara Chronicles the way readers have for the past few decades.
[Image via MTV]